The debate over bomb shelters 50 years ago

The heated debate on whether town residents should build bomb shelters as “anti-extinction insurance” continued, the Jan. 14, 1963, Press reported.

On Jan. 7, Civil Defense Commander Henry Racki, head of Connecticut Metropolitan Target Area One, addressed the Kiwanis Club at The Elms Inn and quoted a government estimate that fallout shelters would save the lives of 40 to 50 million Americans who would otherwise die in a nuclear attack.

Mr. Racki compared fallout shelters to a soldier’s helmet, saying that though a helmet doesn’t shield everything faced in combat, it was better than having nothing. Most of Mr. Racki’s argument centered on his belief that a nationwide system of shelters would save millions who would otherwise die from the effects of radioactive fallout.

A week later the Kiwanis heard from Dr. Raymond Sawyer of West Lane, a senior research scientist at Columbia University, who maintained that fallout was the least of the dangers attending a nuclear raid. He said that blast and heat were the real dangers and that none of the victims of Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings had died from fallout. Sawyer said that the majority of shelters, then advocated, would serve as incinerators for their occupants if they were within range of a high-altitude blast.

The Board of Education asked Superintendent of Schools Phillip Pitruzullo to confer with Mrs. Edith Marcus of Lakeland Hills, who had asked for permission to withdraw her two children from the schools during Civil Defense drills and evacuations because of her moral disapproval of the CD program.

John Scott of Peaceable Ridge, Time magazine’s traveling fact-finder, said he expected to see the United States giving lend-lease aid to the Soviet Union as a defense against the menace of Communist China. He made his prediction in a talk on “Crisis in the Communist World” at the Community Center. Scott said his prediction would not come true until China had nuclear weapons, which he predicted was 10 years off.

Dr. Richard Scala opened his dentistry office in Branchville center. Dr. Scala graduated from Ridgefield High School in 1950 and served as a dental assistant in the United States Army during the Korean War. He received his DDS from Georgetown University in 1962 and returned to Ridgefield with his wife, the beautiful and former Branchville/Ridgefield native Lucy Del Biondo.

Mr. and Mrs. Donald Torcellini of North Street announced the Christmas Day engagement of their daughter, Barbara, to Richard Serfilippi, son of Reno Serfilippi of South Olmstead Lane. Barbara Torcellini Serfilippi, a graduate of the University of Bridgeport, is, of course, our town clerk.

The Pacemakers, Bruce Boege’s band of musicians, played at the Teenage Canteen’s annual “Faraway Places” event at Veterans Park School. Tickets were $1 per person and $1.75 per couple. Doug Pribanic and Karen Elliott were the newest members of the Canteen’s Pool Club.

Mario J. Frulla was elected chief of the Ridgefield Volunteer Fire Department, succeeding Frank Santini, who was chief for three years before being appointed as a paid fireman. Mr. Frulla had been the town’s fire warden and first assistant chief for three years. Before that he was a combination paid fireman and policeman for a number of years before becoming a full-time police officer.

The Police Commission considered the possibility of appointing a town constable to serve the Ridgebury district on safety and police protection issues.

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